Richard Widmark plays a firefighter for the US Forestry Service, a brave man who nevertheless does not believe in taking foolish risks. Widmark is branded a coward by a rookie fireman (Jeffrey Hunter) who holds Widmark responsible for the forest-fire death of the rookie's father. All passions are swept aside when a particularly brutal fire strands Widmark and his men in the middle of unprotected forest. Widmark then realizes that he must attempt to lead the others to well-being. Red Skies of Montana represents the film debut (in an unbilled role) of future TV and film star Richard Crenna.